MALDEF disappoints Latino students in Tucson while compromising with White Supremacy

Let’s begin with a very quick timeline of facts to get us up to date.

In the late 1970s a Desegregation order was placed on TUSD. Nothing really resulted from it after three decades. However, TUSD was able to levy a $63,000,000 tax on the citizens per year in what is known as “deseg funds” in order to implement that which they ignore.

If you are wondering were that billion dollars went, just take a look at the DeConcini lawfirm “Deseg Taj Majal” on Broadway and Tucson; a huge plantation made off the backs of minority students.

In 2009 the Republican-appointed conservative federal judge David Bury lifted the Deseg order, even though huge disparities still remained. The story goes that he was just tired of dealing with it, wondering why it was still around after three decades.

So the Post-Unitary Status Plan was passed. This was a federal court order and in it was clearly stated the existence of the Mexican American Studies Program. Furthermore, it called for the expansion of the program, which is the reason why Mark Stegeman was the only one to vote against it, and for that reason.

For those who complain about the cost, in the district that is 61% Latino and with and extra $63,000,000 set aside specially for Desegregation programs, the entire MAS program cost less than 1% of this set-aside budget!

So money clearly was not the issue.

But at least we have the MAS program… that is, until MALDEF steps in.

MALDEF decided, and rightly so, that TUSD still had major racism problems, and thus decided to appeal Judge Bury’s decision to the Ninth Circuit. MALDEF won that appeal in 2011, but part of that decision was to bounce the deseg order back to Bury.

You can see the problem here. The man who doesn’t think there is racism in TUSD is now in charge of fixing racism in TUSD, and to do so he has to work with the TUSD administration who not only don’t believe that there is racism, in the words of assistant superintendent Lupita Garcia, but who are the guilty defendants in that perpetuation of racism!

After this point, all “victories” by MALDEF will be on paper only, and the same old chingadera is back in effect; lack of ENFORCEMENT of the Desegregation plan on TUSD.

For example, that MAS program that is protected in the Post-Unitary Status Plan? The TUSD board voted to kill it. They claimed it was because MAS violated the state law HB2281, but in Judge Bury’s own words:

even if it did – the Supreme Court has held that state laws cannot be allowed to impede a desegregation order.

So this was Judge Bury’s own words in Spring of 2013, but which contradict his actions one year earlier.

First MALDEF Fail

The first MALDEF Fail is actually two:

Critics argued that if a federal court ruling said the district must expand Mexican-American studies, the district must keep the MAS classes in place. At a community meeting shortly after the board decided to dismantle MAS, governing-board member Adelita Grijalva said that she mentioned the desegregation order to her fellow board members, but their attitude was that the district was already so far out of compliance that it didn’t matter.

Attorneys with MALDEF tried to have the classes reinstated, but the request was denied by the special master. MALDEF filed a motion for the court to reconsider, but that motion was also denied.

via Tucson Weekly.

Let’s get this straight. The Federal Court Order says that MAS must exist and be expanded. The TUSD board steps up to Judge Bury’s order and wipes their ass with it. So MALDEF complains to the Special Master.

The Special Master actually wants MAS to be gone because he wants to try his own multicultural experiment using Tucson’s Latino students as the lab rats. He says that MAS is his competition, so he does not want it returned, in violation of the federal court order from the same federal court judge that gave him power.

So MALDEF appeals to Judge Bury, and he violates his own court order.

At this point it should be clear that there will be NO JUSTICE under Judge Bury’s watch on the Desegregation case.

My answer would have been to go to the Ninth Circuit again. MALDEF should have told them that the situation they put them in was like ruling that they were in a violent household (TUSD), but to go back to that household and just hope the perpetuator of that violence (Pedicone/TUSD  Admin) plays nice from now on.

This is when MALDEF started compromising with White Supremacy, and this is where they let us down, despite claims they were helping.

From the same Tucson Weekly article above:

Sylvia Campoy, a former school board member who represents the Mendoza plaintiffs in the desegregation case, says the goal now is to help the special master develop another unitary status plan…

The same Special Master that thinks he knows better than the local Tucson Mexican American community and their MAS program, the same Special Master that knows nothing about MAS, yes that old white man is supposed to save us from the other old white men represented by DeConcini?

Fast-forward a year in which the community, including this blogger, was led to believe that the Special Master and the Deseg order were actually going to change something…

with attendance at Deseg forums with the DOJ present…

with pleas from the community regarding MAS…

being forced by MALDEF to SETTLE FOR LESS… to give up our MAS program in exchange for watered-down “culturally relevant courses”…

We did all that and still got screwed! MALDEF continued to compromise with the white man found guilty of racism/segregation, one in which they got less than they started with even though they WON THE NINTH CIRCUIT APPEAL!

At least they were honest and put that MALDEF was triumphant first. They also cleverly left out the “Latino” in the “Tucson students” who were also triumphant, because in reality Latino students got screwed even more this year.


Court Orders Tucson School District To Reinstate Culturally Relevant Curriculum That Reflects The History, Culture and Experiences of Mexican Americans

In his ruling, Judge Bury found that TUSD has not eliminated the vestiges of past discrimination identified in a 1978 court-approved settlement of the case and that it had not acted in good faith because over the years “the District had not addressed ongoing segregation and discrimination in TUSD, both physical segregation and unequal academic opportunities for Black and Hispanic minority students.” Significantly, Judge Bury upheld the section of the USP that calls for culturally relevant curriculum designed to reflect the history, experiences and culture of the Mexican American community as a strategy to improve student achievement and one that was agreed to by the parties as a “meritorious strategy, fully supported by the experts and the Special Master, to improve the academic performance of minority students.”

Nancy Ramirez, Western Regional Counsel and lead attorney stated, “Today’s ruling is the culmination of years of vigilance by the Latino and local communities in Tucson demanding accountability and transparency by the Tucson Unified School District that would ultimately lead to equal opportunities for Latino students. We look forward to continuing to work on the implementation of this comprehensive and ambitious plan that offers much promise for improving educational outcomes for all students in TUSD”.

The Court’s order also denies the State of Arizona’s attempt to intervene in the case to litigate the issue of Mexican American Studies. The Court concluded that its ruling does not override a 2010 Arizona law targeting ethnic studies for elimination “and even if it did – the Supreme Court has held that state laws cannot be allowed to impede a desegregation order.” The Court believes that Arizona’s role in the case may be concluding and has requested that Arizona Attorney General Thomas Horne demonstrate why the state’s participation in the case should not be ended now.

(Article continued below)


If you read Judge Bury’s order, what he really says is that the state does in fact have the power to ban curriculum, and that this new deseg order doesn’t violate state law because THERE IS NO MAS PROGRAM in it!

All we have left is table scraps known as CRC.

MALDEF’s Next Loss

What good is having a Deseg order with classes that are supposed to be implemented in barrio schools if the Grijalvista-led board votes to close them down?

Now we had MALDEF vs the TUSD school board, which now in 2013 means the Grijalvistas in charge of it.

A federal judge Friday gave the Tucson Unified School District approval to close 11 schools, TUSD announced on its website.

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) filed a federal court objection to the proposed closures last month. The objection said Tucson Unified “is causing disruption to thousands of students” and the criteria used to chose which schools to close was flawed, according to court documents.

“Any type of change to the number of schools or the location of school impacts the demographics and the racial concentration of the various schools,” said Nancy Ramirez with MALDEF. The organization is representing the Latino plaintiffs in the desegregation case.

TUSD filed a response to the objection in late January saying allegations about purposely keeping schools non-racially diverse are untrue. TUSD students are assigned to a school within an attendance boundary but have the opportunity to enroll in any other school in TUSD or any other school district, according to court documents.

via Arizona Public Media.

Notice the part in bold above. This is in late January, safely within the new term of the new board with the “pro-MAS” Grijalvista majority.

To those of us on the ground in Tucson, the whole thing is a facade. How can MALDEF pretend to be fighting the TUSD board when they fully support this new majority?

What good are court orders with no enforcement? MALDEF’s current failures

It may seem as if I’m trying to beat up on MALDEF, but that is not the case. What I am wondering, however, is why they are allowing us Latinos and themselves to get beat up with they have the power of the federal courts on their side?

For example, remember that press release that said:

Court Orders Tucson School District To Reinstate Culturally Relevant Curriculum That Reflects The History, Culture and Experiences of Mexican Americans

This Culturally Relevant Curriculum (CRC) is clearly laid out in the Deseg order and two crucial deadlines have already passed! MALDEF brags that:

Today’s ruling is the culmination of years of vigilance by the Latino and local communities in Tucson demanding accountability and transparency by the Tucson Unified School District…

Accountability? Transparency? Ha!

By May 1st of LAST WEEK we were already supposed to have a CRC director with a whole crew ready to have classes at all the high schools this Fall.

MALDEF let the April 1st deadline pass, and then it let the May 1st deadline pass.

Now those classes that it bragged about in their press release may not even start this Fall!

There’s not even a person in charge and the process is a mystery, the opposite of transparency.

What is most troubling, however, is how the MALDEF plaintiffs seem to have compromised themselves to the point that they are no longer interested in working on the Save Ethnic Studies – MAS teachers side in exchange for a “program that will be even better than MAS.”

The new CRC has no MAS teachers working on it. The founders of the MAS program are not working on it. Instead you have a non-transparent group made up of who knows who working on who knows what with not even a curriculum developed for students that are already enrolling in a class that no board member knows anything about.

The idea, or at least how I thought of it, would be for the new Deseg order to keep Auggie Romero in his place under the Multicultural Curriculum, developing the white man’s experiment, while the MAS teachers could work in the CRC department and easily get those classes going by Fall since they already had the curriculum and the training.

Unfortunately, the new CRC and Deseg plan have turned out the be the anti-SES plan with MALDEF seeming to go along with it. Even in the personal bashing that takes place of MAS teachers and those involved with SES, the MALDEF plaintiffs seem to think this is okay and continue to work with anti-SES forces.

Agree with disagree with the personal fighting, but the end result and fact is that the Latino students have been let down while MALDEF is supposed to be ensuring that what they bragged about in their press release actually happens.

Will Mari Herreras still get to have her son take a gray-haired Curtis Acosta’s class? Heck, will she even have a local school that remains open in TUSD?

One thing that is almost certain is that any remnants of MAS in TUSD are just about gone as even the teachers leave the toxic environment that John Pedicone has imposed on them. So if the MALDEF plaintiff really wants to keep her promise that CRC will be better than MAS, then it will surely have to be without the MAS teachers.

But if the teachers didn’t matter, then why has no other similar program ever existed? Maybe there is something special about the connection that these teachers have with the students, and their motivations and passion for developing these courses.

While Auggie Romero was busy being an intern for John McCain, the founders of MAS were on a special mission to fix devastating problems in TUSD, including lots of gang violence that was taking place.

They were given a special mission and the board fully supported them. Now the board is hindering anything that does what it is supposed to do.

The proof of this is simple. As soon as the new board came in this year, they could have undone the Hicks resolution of January 10th, 2012 that killed MAS. They could have stood up to the state using Judge Bury’s own words that state law is superseded by federal court orders especially for a district under desegregation orders.

But they didn’t, and what we have instead is massive school closures, massive firings, and MAS killings… heck the books are still banned to this day.

Why hasn’t MALDEF appealed to the Ninth Circuit? That’s where SES is now. Why does MALDEF keep negotiating with the perpetuators of this racism? Why is MALDEF even compromising with White Supremacy?

If that term is too harsh for you, then tough, because that is what you call it when TUSD allows European History to count for American History credit, but not American History / Mexican American perspectives. That’s what you call it when Latino literature doesn’t count as valid core classes anymore, and books by Latino authors get banned while at the same time a class on the Bible and Western Civilization begins.

It’s White Supremacy stupid!

And unfortunately, MALDEF compromised to have less than we had when we began. From MAS to CRC, and we might not even get those crumbs with no CRC director even appointed yet.


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